As a creative person, there’s nothing more frustrating than when the ideas just won’t flow. You sit there, brow furrowing, wheels aimlessly turning like a car stuck in a ditch, until suddenly, “UGGGGGGGG”, you putter out in defeat.
For some, creative blocks can last for hours. Others for days. And for the most unfortunate of us, years. Causes of these blocks can range from overworking, stress, unrealistically high expectations of one’s self, and the current place in one’s life. For example, I recently went through a period of about a week and a half when the ideas and motivation just were not running. I didn’t have any genuine interest in sitting down to write, edit, let alone take any worthwhile outfit pictures. With so much going on for each of us personally, especially right now, it can be hard to know where exactly a block is rooted. For me, it was location—I’ve been living in the same neighborhood for three years now, which is the longest my antsy ass has ever lived anywhere, other than my parents’ house. And in typical Alexis form, the sameness of my surroundings had put a damper on my creativity.
While the causes of creative blocks may vary wildly from one person to the next, the solutions follow a fairly similar pattern. Below you’ll find my favorite exit strategies for these challenging times. All of them promise to push and alter your headspace and coax your mind back to its most beautiful ideas.
Did you know just the sight of your phone can cause a breakdown in focus? It’s true! Being home in Vermont for the month, where the service and WiFi are equally as terrible, I notice it even more. Unlike in Boston, I can actually sit in my bedroom and read a full chapter without scrolling or surfing in-between pages. Who would have thought?
While phones can be great vehicles of inspiration, they can also be the gateways to our most distracted and distant selves. You could be on the cusp of brilliance and two seconds later, you’re on your phone, diving down a rabbit hole of ASMR makeup tutorials. By putting your phone in another room during brainstorms or writing periods, you put yourself in the best position to explore your mind and focus on the task at hand.
…a real book. Okay, Kindles are fine, too. But nothing where you could end up on Instagram. Just the format of a physical book I find draws me in and forces me to think differently from how I do in my highly digital life. Find a genre you most enjoy—no one ‘hates’ reading, just certain genres. My favorite place to read is outdoors in a park or other public areas. In these locations, there’s enough to keep my wandering mind interested, but too much going on for me to get sucked into any one conversation or person. If staying motivated is an issue for you, join a book club and let peer pressure hold you accountable. Or, rent an audiobook from your local library and digest it that way instead. Check out my summer reading list for inspiration to get you started.
EARLY BIRDS & NIGHT OWLS
Hands down, my mind is at its best in the very early morning and very late at night. The rest of the time in between that, I’m the human version of a comatose potato. When it comes to getting the creative juices flowing again, you have to set yourself up for success. This means carving out time to be productive and really get into what you’re trying to accomplish. Maybe that’s getting up an hour earlier than everyone else in your house to sit in the kitchen, coffee or tea in hand, and just blow through lists of ideas. Or, letting inspiration strike when it needs to—which might come at 2 am after an eventful night out. Point is, whenever your peak time, make space to let things happen.
Nope, this doesn’t mean aimlessly scrolling through Instagram. Or rolling out your yoga mat. Choose something like walking someplace familiar or organizing that catchall drawer of office supplies. If you’re like me, you equate boredom with laziness and will find this process very difficult. But the more you’re able to let your mind go rogue and find its own rhythm, the more likely it is to fall onto your next stroke of genius. I find boredom helps me to be less self-critical and accepting of even my most outlandish ideas. So, just let it happen! Love where your mind goes and be open to any and all directions.
GET OUT OF YOUR NORMAL
Reorganize your room. Start a new fitness challenge. Take a weekend getaway. Spend a Friday night alone for a change. Although our habits can be a source of productivity, they can also hold us back. In seeing and doing the same things on a daily basis, its no wonder your mind needs a siesta every now and again! By finding small ways to break up the ordinary, especially while in lockdown, you give your mind room to spark new ideas and routes of thinking.
Have your own advice for reigniting creativity? Leave them in the comments below.